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by Peter Moskos

October 26, 2010

Feris Jones was Lucky

Officer (now Detective) Jones was lucky she wasn't killed. 19-year-old Winston Cox was robbing a store and Jones pulled her gun and announced her presence as a police officer. Cox fired and she returned fire, striking Cox.

Why did she say anything before firing? She should have just come out and "incapacitated" Cox (ie: shot center mass, likely killing Cox). Did she think he was going to drop his gun? His gun was bigger. Cox tried to kill her. Luckily, Cox missed. But what if he hadn't? What if he killed Jones? Then we'd all be going to her funeral. I wouldn't want to risk my life on Cox having bad aim. Jones shouldn't have either.

[But it all turned out well and I wish Jones the best of luck and repeat that she did great and she's a good shot and a bad-ass. (I'm really happy she's not dead.)]

Now here's my plan, at least in theory. In the next couple of days, I'm going to present a couple of hypothetical situations related to this scenario. I'm curious as to how you'd respond.


Cleanville Tziabatz said...

It is tough to say because we weren't there. She probably should have shot sooner, but three possible good reasons for not doing so are:

1. Didn't see robber's gun right away and couldn't be absolutely sure who the robber was. For example, here is a policewoman who should not have shot so quick:


(and yes, I understand her prosecutor buddies whitewashed it, which was bull hockey and hopefully would never happen on this coast)

Sometimes the man with the gun is an undercover who just thwarted the robbery.

2. Didn't see robber's gun right away and not sure that a robbery was happening at all. Sometimes people get carried away reporting situations for one reason or another.

3. Wanted to give other people in the store to clear backdrop, hit the deck, etc.

Maybe none of these apply, but maybe they do. Need more info b4 passing judgement.

IrishPirate said...


if you give cops guns and authority sometimes they are going to shoot or kill the wrong person. It's a sad fact. Just like putting people in cars will result in traffic fatalities or electrifying homes will result in accidental electricity related deaths. You can reduce the incidents, but not eliminate them.

As to this shooting the officer should have recalled the wisdom offered in the movie "El Diablo":

When asked by Edwards why he shot a bad guy in the back he replies "Why, his back was to me." That is a recurring joke throughout the movie.

This movie idea that you warn the bad guys first is silly. If they have a gun out and are doing evil you shoot the fookers. Then you announce you're the police.

Also the shot this officer fired was probably a 1 in 10,000 lucky shot.


Anonymous said...

You make it sound like she had a Hollywood-western-style shoot out where they were standing face to face at opposite ends of the cereal aisle. What, she didn't assume some defensive position or posture that gave her cover and/or significantly lessened her vulnerability? If not, she's definitely lucky; dumb luck.

If you're suggesting she should/could have just summarily executed the guy without giving him the chance to surrender (not that cops don't do that), it seems totally out of what I perceived to be your character, and it concerns me.

IrishPirate said...

Here's a scenario.

Bad guy is behind a car shooting into a crowd.

You're an off duty cop who happens to be behind him.

Do you say "excuse me sir, I am the po po. Please stop firing and drop your weapon."??

Or do you just aim and fire?

I say aim and fire because having fired three types of handguns in the ARMY I realize how difficult it is to fire them accurately beyond a short distance.

The robber had a gun out. You put yourselves and others at risk by announcing yourself as the police.

Sometimes there are no good answers.

Mere weeks ago there was some goofy gang kid firing a handgun on a busy street a few blocks from me on a Sunday afternoon as people were going in and out of a major grocery store.

Running and firing down the street. Unfortunately, no cops were around, but if one had shot the kid without any warning I would not be alarmed by it.

Of course in that scenario a cop might not fire for fear of hitting an innocent in the foreground or background. Which is more than the shooter was apparently thinking about.

PCM said...

I am saying she should have incapacitated the threat (call it what you will) without warning, if somebody's life was at risk.

If a robber has the gun to someone's head, absolute shoot him immediately. I wouldn't risk my life on a robber's rational decision to surrender rather than kill someone.

Police do not always have to give warning or let someone surrender. That's why I brought this up. If a life is at stake (including the police officer's), you shoot.

Now in this case, it would be a little different. If the officer went to confront the guy. If nobody else was there, then the officer was to some extent creating a threat. You can't run from cover to shoot somebody if nobody is being lethaly threatened.

My overall point is that I want the police officer to shoot before the bad guy does, whatever that takes.

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

My overall point is that I want the police officer to shoot before the bad guy does, whatever that takes.

What should should happen if the bad guy isn't the bad guy after all?

Should the police officer be forced to go and teach elementary school like Presbylewski did on Wire? Should she just go back to the police force with no unfavorable consequences like the one who shot the innocent guy at the Pappa John's robbery in Chino, CA? Should he spend the rest of his life as an indentured butler to the family of the man he wrongfully killed?

The primary thing that makes a police officer not shoot without warning is that they are not sure whom the bad guy is. Your posts on this topic seem to ignore the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the drawing room.

SIDE NOTE: I once had a situation in my backyard where I would have shot without warning if I had had a gun. Man holding a woman at gunpoint, had her backed up against my neighbor's fence. So, I get the concept of shooting without warning. Then again, if police happened by immediately after I shot the bad guy then I also get that I wouldn't want to have been shot on sight by some triggerhappy officer for the act of holding a gun near a shot bad guy in my backyard, with a screaming, fleeing woman running up my side yard. It wouldn't have been what it looked like to an officer just coming on scene. I would have wanted an opportunity to drop my gun. That means warning.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, maybe if you had more than a year on the street and actually got involved in serious police encounters you would know that after a cop is in a shooting that cop has to articulate their actions. A key part of that articulation is stating how the cop identified his or herself as law enforcement. Still unknown is how you identify yourself as law enforcement. It's nice that your glad she's not dead though. Go back to your Doritos and leave the Monday morning quarterbacking to people who know what they are actually commenting on.

PCM said...

Oh, snap!

Yeah, the problem with being a Baltimore cop is there aren't enough serious police encounters.

I find it funny when people say you don't learn anything in 14 months in the Eastern. Sure, had I stayed longer, I would learned more. But would you say somebody returning from two tours in Iraq or Afghanistan knows nothing about the army? It's crazy talk.

IrishPirate said...

Sounds like 9:25am either works as a cop in a nice upper class suburb somewhere or takes his views on policing from TV shows.

My guess is number two.

PCM said...

I'm used to being criticized by dumb-ass cops who have no idea what I believe in and haven't read my book. I think it's a gut reaction based on the assumption that somehow I'm anti-police.

But I'm not used to being criticized by a police officer when I argue that a cop waited too long to shoot!

Shoot before you get shot [at] is justified. Too often when police do just that, they face criticism from people who have never put their life on the line and don't know what they are talking about. That's what what I'm talking about.

"She should have capped his ass even faster," normally brings cheers from police circles.

Jeff N said...

From your quick summary of the situation I was going to say that the cop needed to announce, just to be sure of the situation before opening fire.

After looking up Feris Jones and reading more of the story, she could have/should have just shot the guy and not said anything.

I assume/hope there is some rule or guideline cops are supposed to follow before shooting someone that would address the question of whether you have to yell?